This was published today in the Pioneer. Comments and criticism are welcome as always.
Media lionises a rogue cop
SUNDAY, 09 OCTOBER 2011
Sanjiv Bhatt, the IPS officer who has levelled sweeping and baseless allegations against Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, has a mile-long history sheet of violating every possible rule in the book — from abusing TADA to harass innocent people to planting narcotics to frame an innocent lawyer. His service record is blotted with several observations of his shameful conduct. Yet, for media he is a hero!
There’s really no other way to say this: Sanjiv Bhatt is a rogue cop who has willingly let himself be a pawn in the hands of those whose sole intent seems to be the removal of Mr Narendra Modi from his position as Chief Minister of Gujarat. His arrest by Gujarat Police on September 30 has brought out new facts which only underscore what this writer had earlier chronicled in these columns (“Modi-baiters stand unmasked”, August 26). His tone, tenor and language before and after his arrest seem to prove the repeated observation in his service record that his conduct is unbecoming of a senior IPS officer.
The arrest of a senior IPS officer — or any civil servant — happens under relatively extraordinary circumstances. Bhatt’s case demonstrates this fact like no other: Throughout his career, the Gujarat Government has shown remarkable restraint in not acting tough against Bhatt’s numerous transgressions. Most of these weren’t ordinary transgressions: from planting drugs in an innocent lawyer’s hotel room to rigging police recruitments to committing atrocities by misusing the TADA to flouting repeated summons to appear before departmental inquiries. The latest episode of his violation-filled career is the allegation that Bhatt bullied his junior, police constable KD Pant, into signing false affidavits. If Mr Pant’s allegations are proven, Bhatt stands to face exemplary punishment.
Mr Pant’s complaint makes for shocking reading. Very briefly, it states how Bhatt asked Mr Pant to state that his deposition before the SIT was taken under duress, told him to paint the SIT as a team of arm-twisters and bullied him to state that he went with Bhatt to that “dreaded” meeting Mr Modi had with his senior bureaucrats on February 27, 2002 and assured Mr Pant that he would be “safe” by taking him to Gujarat Congress leader Arjun Modhwadia who assured him that “Mr Narendra Modi is to be sent to Sabarmati Jail within two months.”
What’s interesting is that Bhatt in his Supreme Court affidavit in April 2011 states that Mr Pant was treated by the SIT as if he was an accused. This is quite consistent with Bhatt’s later-day intimidation of Mr Pant and indicates that perhaps Bhatt had the intimidation planned when he filed his SC affidavit. It should also be noted that Bhatt produced Mr Pant suo moto as a witness before the SIT.
The prime reason for Bhatt’s secular stardom hinges on his claim that he was present in that meeting where Mr Modi had allegedly instructed a group of senior bureaucrats to allow Hindus to vent their anger against Muslims. Which is where Mr Pant’s complaint gains immense importance. Mr Pant’s complaint states that he was on leave and vacationing in Mumbai from February 25 to February 28, 2002, a fact he has disclosed to the SIT. If this is indeed true, it is consistent with the fact that none of the said bureaucrats could recall Bhatt’s presence in that meeting. Additionally, Mr RB Sreekumar, former Gujarat DGP — no friend of Mr Modi — in his affidavit before the SIT hasn’t mentioned Bhatt’s name as those present in that meeting. Look at it whichever way, it’s clear that Bhatt is blatantly lying under the veneer of his ‘stricken conscience’.
It’s curious why he hasn’t produced a single shred of evidence especially when he claims that he has massive amounts of documents to implicate Mr Modi and other “powerful” people in the Gujarat administration and refused the court’s offer of bail on the condition that he allows the police to access his bank lockers. If he’s the principled man he claims he is, why should he deny such a request? If he’s utterly scrupulous, why did he need to approach a political party, and known mischief-mongers like Ms Teesta Setalvad and Ms Shabnam Hashmi? Recall that Bhatt’s affidavit was notarised by the same advocate who notarised all those false and/or tutored witnesses produced by Ms Setalvad. The truth is that Bhatt is allowing himself to be used by Modi-baiters of all hues: Primarily the NGO mafia and the Congress. His e-mail exchanges with Gujarat Congress opposition leader SS Gohil (where Bhatt asks him for a new Blackberry phone) and links with Mr Arjun Modhwadia are clear indicators that he’s a willing pawn in the Congress’s political games.
However, all this doesn’t concern the presumptuous media, which in Mr Modi’s case seems to operate like the propaganda arm of the Congress. A leading daily pens an editorial about how the Gujarat Government has muzzled Bhatt’s right to dissent by arresting him. The irony of that statement is perhaps lost on the publication. There’s a huge difference between arresting somebody on perfectly legitimate grounds — it’s significant to note that no criminal case has been framed against Bhatt — and arresting because he/she exercised the democratic right of peaceful protest. As official documents show, Bhatt’s arrest was the only way the Gujarat Government could get him to face departmental proceedings because he had avoided as many as four summons. Of course, such facts are inconvenient to a media that has stitched its own version of the truth. Oh, and the clearest and most recent instance of muzzling dissent is the savage crackdown by the Congress against Baba Ramdev and his supporters. Another illustrative example is the Emergency imposed by this party.
The guardians of secularism unfailingly exhibit a Pavlovian similarity in behaviour where Mr Modi is concerned. The mindset at work currently is the same that clamoured for Mr Modi’s blood and wept copious tears for that dreaded underworld don, Sohrabuddin. It’s also the same mindset that treated Sohrabuddin like he was some martyr just the same way as it’s now suppressing Bhatt’s shady record and giving short shrift to Mr Pant’s complaint. It’s superfluous to say that the media, a willing stooge of the secular fundamentalists has abandoned even the most basic sense of right and wrong. What’s next? Will this motley crowd support Dawood Ibrahim if he alleges that Mr Modi was responsible for the 2002 riots?
A good indicator of what’s going on can be gauged by the Congress’s reaction. It wasted no time in openly supporting the drumbeaters who took out protests condemning Bhatt’s arrest. Indeed, the arrest couldn’t have come at a better time. Mr Modi’s spectacular success of the Sadbhavana Mission combined with America’s praise for Gujarat’s successes and its own realisation that the Congress has near-zero presence in Gujarat were causes for serious worry. Bhatt’s arrest gave it a new handle to manufacture more fake outrage. More accurately, the Congress has adopted a multi-pronged approach to attack Mr Modi: From taking out parallel fasts to abusing the Governor’s office to using Bhatt, it’s desperately trying to nail that one trick that’ll actually work. Bhatt is merely incidental.